Synthetic biology: at the crossroads of genetic engineering and human therapeutics-a Keystone Symposia report

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2021 Dec;1506(1):98-117. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14710. Epub 2021 Nov 16.


Synthetic biology has the potential to transform cell- and gene-based therapies for a variety of diseases. Sophisticated tools are now available for both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells to engineer cells to selectively achieve therapeutic effects in response to one or more disease-related signals, thus sparing healthy tissue from potentially cytotoxic effects. This report summarizes the Keystone eSymposium "Synthetic Biology: At the Crossroads of Genetic Engineering and Human Therapeutics," which took place on May 3 and 4, 2021. Given that several therapies engineered using synthetic biology have entered clinical trials, there was a clear need for a synthetic biology symposium that emphasizes the therapeutic applications of synthetic biology as opposed to the technical aspects. Presenters discussed the use of synthetic biology to improve T cell, gene, and viral therapies, to engineer probiotics, and to expand upon existing modalities and functions of cell-based therapies.

Keywords: CAR T cells; CRISPR; bacterial engineering; biosensor; cell therapy; cellular engineering; gene therapy; genetic engineering; logic gating; oncolytic virus; receptor engineering; synthetic biology; tumor-associated antigen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / methods
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / trends
  • Congresses as Topic / trends*
  • Gene Targeting / methods
  • Gene Targeting / trends
  • Genetic Engineering / methods
  • Genetic Engineering / trends*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Genetic Therapy / trends*
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Machine Learning / trends
  • Research Report*
  • Synthetic Biology / methods
  • Synthetic Biology / trends*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology